Mayor: Beaverton is booming
Mayor Denny Doyle's theme for his 2019 state of the city remarks was simply: Beaverton is booming.
Projects such as the Public Safety Center and the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts are or soon will be underway, new housing is or soon will be built, restaurants and other businesses are opening downtown and elsewhere in an increasingly diverse city.
"With so many good things, is it any surprise that people want to live in Beaverton?" Doyle told the crowd gathered Thursday, Jan. 10, at FT Equities and Specht Properties. The event was cosponsored by the Beaverton Chamber of Commerce.
Doyle also touched on issues of housing, homelessness and diversity in a city where one-third of its 97,000 residents are people of color.
"We have achieved so much in the past decade, and I know that the next 10 years will be even brighter for Beaverton," said Doyle, who was on the City Council for 14 years before his election as the city's chief executive in 2008. His latest term ends in two years.
Doyle's remarks were in a more conventional format than last year, when he spoke for only 10 minutes and let a video presentation based on classic movies do the rest. (That 2018 video won awards from the City-County Communications & Marketing Agency for promotional video and best use of humor.)
But attendees did encounter an unconventional approach in the form of a video game. Mayor's Quest 2 uses an image of Billie the Beaver, the city's mascot, to connect with various city projects on a map with pop-up factoids or comments.
"Beaverton is committed to connecting with our residents," Doyle said. "Studies show that games help people engage with information, even boring stuff like government. So I invite you to play today."
During 2018, Beaverton was a finalist for an All-America City designation from the National Civic League for its work in community vision, cultural inclusion and public safety outreach.
Two Beaverton neighborhoods won awards from Neighborhoods USA, and Beaverton ranked third of 10 cities named by Livability.com as the best places to raise a family.
Ground was broken for a Public Safety Center at Southwest Allen and Hall boulevards — the new building for police and emergency management is scheduled for completion in early 2020 — and work on the arts center is planned to start late this year.
With last year's announcement of Patricia Reser as the major donor of $13 million — and numerous other gifts, including $750,000 from Cambia Health Solutions this past week — Doyle said supporters are $6.5 million shy of the fundraising goal of $46 million.
"These generous gifts bring us closer to the community vision of a center honoring the arts and our diverse cultures," he said. "We are creating a regional tourist draw for all of Washington County in the heart of downtown."
Four new hotels have opened or are in various stages of development.
"We also have a reputation as the Westside destination for great food," Doyle said. He referred to 49 independently owned restaurants in downtown, 12 of them added in 2018. BG Food Cartel, the city's first food-cart pod, also opened across from The Round.
Fiserv, a financial services company, opened offices at Creekside Place — and Chuck Eggert, the founder of Pacific Foods, has opened Basics, a nutrition-focused grocery store, at 5th and Western.
"We are thrilled to have this type of investment in our largest industrial district," Doyle said.
The 230-unit Rise Central apartments, 15 of which are reserved for "affordable" housing, will open in spring near The Round. The first houses are being built on South Cooper Mountain, and the Metro Council has approved the city's request to bring the rest of Cooper Mountain into the regional urban growth boundary.
Doyle said that voter approval of Metro's regional housing bond Nov. 6 will bring more than $30 million to Beaverton for projects such as First and Main, 54 units planned by REACH Community Development Corp., and Cedar Grove, 44 units planned by Community Partners for Affordable Housing.
The City Council backed the bond — the only one to do so in Washington County — and Doyle was on the steering committee promoting its approval.
"While we continue to make progress on the housing front, we know that there are still people in great need and we continue to expand our efforts to help," he said.
Doyle said the city has added a worker at the library and two police officers to expand outreach to people without homes. Police now have a fund to tap for motel vouchers or car repairs to help get people off the streets.
The city hopes to add a mental health aide, with the help of Washington County, in Beaverton Municipal Court.
The City Council, on a 4-1 vote June 12, did pass a much-debated ban on overnight car camping on city streets. But later in the year, it authorized Doyle to set rules for safe overnight parking lots with access to sanitation and trash disposal. Doug Menke, general manager of the park district, said his agency will be the first to participate in the program.
Beaverton also provides financial support to Family Promise of Beaverton, which enables participating churches and agencies — including the city itself — to give short-term shelter for families.
Doyle said the city has come a long way since he started the process a decade ago that led to a Diversity Advisory Board. He said 40 percent of applicants for city advisory boards and commissions now identify themselves as people of color.
The city also provided money for the "Leading with Race" study of Washington County, sponsored two night markets — a first in the market's four-year history — and joined with a dozen organizations in Welcoming Week events in September.
Doyle said he will soon unveil a climate action plan that will call for a ban on plastic bags — Hillsboro and Forest Grove have taken similar action — and other steps.
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